There was quite a kerfuffle in the world of college basketball last week. The players from Duke would not shake the hands of the players of UNC after their Final Four matchup. There was chatter from folks in favor of eliminating the post-game handshake altogether, especially considering the fight that broke out at the end of another game earlier in the year.
When I was in high school, there were teams I would have been happy to forgo a post-race handshake. In fact, there is a certain high school in my area that my friends and I still dislike. We’ve gone so far as to vow to avoid their shade of blue or even the chocolate candy that bears the same name. However, during my freshman year in college, that type of hatred towards the opposing schools changed. I cooled down with a rival school.
My older, though not wiser, teammates would join other teams in a cooldown after the race. We would chat with the guys we just killed ourselves to beat about their training, races on the calendar, and even their college party scene. We didn’t do it all the time, but enough that we had guys from other schools that we considered running friends.
I still try to keep that tradition alive. After a race, I usually try to grab the people I raced around for a trot after the race. I want to beat everyone during the race, but we really need each other to bring out the best in ourselves. You can hate their guts during the race, but you may learn something by talking with them. A lot of distance running is just getting yourself comfortable with being uncomfortable. There is no rule that says you can’t make some friends during that pursuit.